Top Digital Marketing Trends in 2020

by Regan Dishon  |   |  Strategy  |  2 comments

9 min to read ✭ In this post, you’ll learn some of this year’s top digital marketing trends on Facebook and Instagram, paid Google, and email marketing. 

2020 is well underway and we’re already starting to see some trends and changes in how digital marketing platforms are working. Today we’re going to be talking about some of the top trends on Facebook and Instagram, paid Google, and email marketing that we need to be on the lookout for in 2020. 


Facebook and Instagram

The first platform we’re going to talk about is Facebook and Instagram. This platform has been working so well and everybody is wanting to jump on board. In fact, between 2018 and 2019 over one million new advertisers joined the platform and it’s expected that in 2020 we’re going to see one million more. So it’s really important to understand that as competition increases and as there are more people trying to bid for your donors, Facebook can actually charge a little bit more for this because if you’re not willing to pay it, someone else is. The other thing that we have to know is that as there’s more competition, it’s more important than ever to make sure your creative stands out. What do you need to take away in 2020 when it comes to competition and bidding? We need to keep an eye on our costs. If we see costs rising, we need to go in and refine our audiences. We need to refine our targeting, but at the same time we need to make sure that, again, our creative stands out. Are we using video? Are we using gifs? Are we putting it in the right place? Are we still using newsfeed or have we adapted to Instagram stories and Facebook stories? Make sure your creative stands out and make sure that we are optimizing to keep our costs as low as possible. 


Another thing that we want to talk about with Facebook and Instagram is the fact that platform migration is happening. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing younger demographics leave Facebook. What’s really interesting is the fact that they’re leaving Facebook and they’re going over to Instagram, which is still owned by Facebook, but they’re also leaving and going over to YouTube. So if we have donors or an audience that’s really in that young demographic, it is important to ask ourselves, are we placing our ads on the right platforms and in the right areas? What’s even more surprising is the fact that individuals over the age of 65 are migrating towards Facebook. What we think is actually really interesting is that in 2018 26% of individuals in that silent generation had established an account with Facebook, whereas just in the last year, that number is over 40%—a huge increase there. If your board or your team has come to you when you’ve pitched Facebook and Instagram before and they say our donor is a little bit older, they’re not on social, that’s not an excuse anymore. This is definitely something to keep in mind. Let’s make sure we’re targeting the right demographics in the right areas. 


The next tip we’re going to talk about on Facebook shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the main thing to take away is the fact that video is king. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be running ads with images or gifs, but if we have the ability to create high-quality video content, our ads actually have a 400% higher likelihood of both being clicked and converting. Something to keep in mind with video, and this is actually a pretty surprising fact, is that 85% of individuals who are going to watch a Facebook ad video or an Instagram ad video are going to watch that with their sound off. So if your team isn’t adding captions to the videos, it’s definitely something worth doing. 


Our last point with Facebook and Instagram that we’re going to talk about today is a little visionary. It’s a little futuristic, but we want to bring to your attention the fact that Facebook owns one of the largest virtual reality companies out there called Oculus. In 2019 alone, Oculus sold over 1.7 million units and these are not cheap pieces of technology. Why do we think they’re doing this? It shouldn’t be a surprise in 24 months if you see a video from us talking about why your nonprofit needs to be running billboard ads in video games. I think they’re looking at that future, but at the same time we’re seeing Facebook start to implement some of those capabilities into Facebook and Instagram. You open Instagram stories and you’re looking through, I’m sure you’ve seen friends or family or coworkers posting videos of them with looking like a celebrity or with some kind of filter on it, right? That’s a form of virtual reality called augmented reality and in 2019 in the last quarter, they actually introduced a beta that allows us to use augmented reality in our advertising and we’re definitely starting to see that roll out more publicly in 2020. It’s definitely a little bit more advanced. It may not be for everybody yet. It’ll be interesting to see the statistics, but it’s definitely a trend to take note of. 


Paid Google Ads

The next platform trends we’re going to talk about revolves around paid Google ads. When we say paid Google ads, we don’t just mean paid Google search. We also mean paid Google display and YouTube as well (Google has owned YouTube since 2006). We’re going to talk about some of these trends starting with paid Google search. 


Paid Google search for nonprofits is no longer reserved just to allow us to bid on things that are above $2. In fact, we’re actually seeing incredible success when it comes to paid Google search because of the fact that your impression share is so much higher. Impression share is going to vary from an account to account basis, but what we typically see on the Google Ad Grant is let’s say we want to go after someone typing in things to do in San Diego for example, and there are one hundred people that are searching that on a monthly basis. In a Google Ad Grant account. Google may only show us about 10% of the time where if we’re willing to pay for that, we might be able to show up closer to 60% of the time. Something to take note of is if you are seeing success on certain keywords in a Google Ad Grant account, but want to accelerate that and see even more success, a lot of times you can copy that ad over and put it in a paid account. Yes, we’re going to pay real money, but we should see a very large increase in the number of conversions that are coming through. 


In the same wheelhouse as paid Google search, we also want to talk about paid Google display ads. It’s something that has been around for a really long time. There are ebbs and flows with it. There are periods where we think Google display is working really well and then it gets really crowded and it doesn’t work well, so everybody leaves and then it starts working well again. We think 2020 is a year where things are going to be working well. Google display is typically a platform that we’re going to want to be using to focus on our remarketing, but what we’ve seen in 2019 is that costs have dropped to the point where it’s only costing us 1/10 of a penny per impression for targeting new individuals. And when it comes to remarketing to people who have already been on our site, it’s still less than a penny. If your organization can set aside even as little as $250 to $500 a month to really focus on those individuals who’ve hit your website, they’ve looked around, they may have even hit the donate page, but haven’t given yet, what happens if we can serve these ads to tens of thousands of individuals for just a few hundred dollars?


The last thing that we want to talk about in terms of paid Google ads is going to be YouTube advertising, but the first point we want to bring up here is going to apply to all platforms. One thing that has been heavily invested in by Google over the last few years is AI. They’re working heavily to ensure that their bidding strategies are using computer algorithms to better understand who is clicking on ads, who is coming to websites, converting and feeding that back so your ads become more successful over time. As a byproduct, they’ve been able to build profiles and individuals to the point now where if you’re in a paid Google ads account and you’re using their affinity audiences, we’re finding those matches to be just as powerful and as beneficial as what we’re seeing over in Facebook and Instagram. Those audiences and those bidding strategies apply to all three platforms—paid Google search, paid Google display, and YouTube. And that’s why everything in terms of paid Google has started to perform better and should be just as equally considered as what we would say for Facebook and Instagram.


My next point about YouTube is a little bit more YouTube specific, but it comes down to the fact that YouTube is actually the second most visited site online worldwide. The only one that’s outperforming it right now is Google. Here at Community Boost, we talk so much about marketing where people’s attention is at and guess what, their attention is on YouTube. We already talked earlier about how we’re seeing younger individuals leave Facebook to yes, go over to Instagram, but actually more of those individuals are daily active users of YouTube. So whether or not you have a young demographic or even an older demographic, they’re there. We want to be there too. 


The best news is that it’s not expensive. One of the trends that we saw in 2019 with YouTube ads was the ability to use what is called skippable in-stream pre-roll ads. What that allows us to do is choose an ad of pretty much any length (typically over 30 seconds but under a minute if possible) and we get to serve that before they’re going to watch their videos. If you’ve ever been on YouTube and you start watching a video, but before it, you’re forced to watch five seconds and after that, if you don’t click skip, it continues to run—that is a skippable pre-roll ad. What’s really amazing about these, and honestly a little bit unbelievable, is the fact that you’re only going to pay for an individual if they watch over 30 seconds of your ad. So not only are we only paying for highly engaged individuals, but we’re getting free brand impressions with tens of thousands of others and the overall cost for that 30 second view is typically less than two pennies. With as little as a $500 a month budget not only can we be getting around 25,000 people to watch over 30 seconds of our ad, but in addition to that, for every person who watches, we’re probably going to get two to three additional people to watch under 30 seconds. That doesn’t mean they’re not taking away your brand impression and the understanding of your mission and honestly for remarketing audiences getting a free touchpoint.


It’s something that is definitely growing. It’s still early. We do need good video content. If we don’t have it, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. But YouTube is absolutely a trend. It’s absolutely under-priced and every nonprofit with good video content needs to be testing it in 2020. If you are curious about learning a little bit more about YouTube ads, we’re actually recording another video that will give you a little bit more information.


Email Marketing

The last platform trend that we’re going to talk about today is going to be email marketing. We’ve already talked about how automation and AI are being leveraged in Facebook and Instagram, and in paid Google. This same technology is being utilized in our email marketing as well. A lot of platforms now give us the ability to cater the type of messaging and the frequency of our emails based on user behavior. When we send an email most platforms have the ability to start to better understand certain individual’s open rates and the times at which they open, which allow us to deliver them at the perfect time. So email is, yes, one of the older platforms that we’re talking about, but it’s no less effective.


The next thing with email to take note of, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise because this is the trend on every platform, is that more people are opening their emails on mobile than they are on desktop. In fact, it’s about 55% of individuals who are opening them on their mobile device. This is very important to remember. We still receive many emails that definitely have not been designed for mobile. The whole subject line is cut off or the way that images and videos are formatted doesn’t work. So it’s important to keep in mind that your audience likely is on mobile. If we are sending them emails that have subject lines that are unreadable, don’t be surprised if they don’t open it. Keep that in mind when designing your emails and you can start to see better open rates. Then along the same lines we want to take note of the fact that because users are on mobile, if they open these emails that are poorly designed and don’t fit well within their screen, they will have to scroll very far in order to read it. If an email is not designed to be mobile-friendly, that email is going to be deleted 70% of the time. When it comes to understanding some email trends that are happening in 2020, this is a platform that we need to keep a closer eye on because the capabilities differ so vastly from platform to platform. 

Regan Dishon


  1. Nick Stamoulis, on March 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Now that 2020 is underway, it is more important than ever to assess marketing trends and determine if you should implement any of them. It is such a good idea to stay ahead of the current trends so that you’re not left behind.


  2. Nick Stamoulis, on March 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Now that 2020 is underway, it is more important than ever to assess marketing trends and determine if you should implement any of them. It is such a good idea to stay ahead of the current trends so that you’re not left behind.


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